A stunt man playing the role of a man jumping to his death in the Huangpu River nailed the scene yesterday — right down to the dying part. Police would not provide the man’s name, only saying that the man was in his 50s … and that he was dead. The accident occured near Huishan Dock on the north end of The Bund in Hongkou District shortly after 4 pm during filming of a new television show called Yuhuo Fenghuang (Phoenix in Flames) helmed by prolific Hong Kong director Wong Jing (pictured) — responsible for Lord of the Wu Tang, Naked Killer and many, many movies with the word “Gambler” in the title.
Evidently the former stunt man “claimed he knew how to swim before [the crew] allowed him to perform the stunt.” Maybe next time they won’t just take a guy’s word for it. The Shanghai Daily story didn’t say from what height the man jumped, but it did say he failed to grab a buoy — apparently the only safety measures taken for the stunt — and then “disappeared after struggling in the waters.”
Police searched for the man’s body “for more than an hour,” but gave up when tides started to rise. A marine police spokeman had this to say: “We have talked with the production team and will see if any corpse found in the river in the next few days accords with the physical features they provided.”
And that makes Shanghaiist wonder: Just how many bodies are found in the Huangpu River each day?
(And no, the Shanghai suicide map doesn’t say anything about the Huangpu River — it tells people to drown themselves in Suzhou Creek.)
UPDATE: Thursday’s Shanghai Daily has a follow-up story. The victim, 55-year-old Chen Lixin, was not a stunt man, just an extra getting paid 300 yuan to play the “the dead body of Uncle Dong, who is killed and thrown into the river by one of the lead actors in the series.” The man’s wife and son say the production company should be held accountable because they didn’t take necessary safety precautions. That would appear to be the case — but we’d be surprised if their case got very far.